You may have seen the series of stories the Robesonian covered recently related to the discovery, identification and burial of U.S. Army 1st Lt. James Earl “Dick” Wright.
Wright died in combat during WWII.
Robesonian Staff Writer Jessica Horne stayed with this compelling story to help tell the story of a local hero almost lost to history.
“Wright was first listed as missing Sept. 10, 1944 and declared “non-recoverable” by the American Graves Registration Command in 1951, but more than 70 years later Wright was recovered and now rests in Lumber Bridge, the town where he grew up and left for war.
A funeral on Tuesday helped define the impact Wright made during his military service. Wright was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for heroism in battle. In 1944, during a strategic operation in France, Wright and others faced German troops at town along the Moselle River. Wright was one of several killed as he and others worked to bring back those injured and killed in the battle.
With Veterans Day approaching, it’s that time of year to consider what our war heroes — both dead and living — have sacrificed for the cause of freedom, something we generally take for granted.
While my life went in a different direction, I hold great respect for our military men and women. Many members of my family did serve; from the Revolutionary War through the most recent conflicts.
My grandfather Bert died in 1974 at the age of 82 when I was 11 years old.
I don’t remember much about my grandfather, but I learned at an early age that he was well respected in the tiny wheat farming town in the Midwest where he spent nearly his entire life.
He was drafted into the Army in April 1918, about seven months before the Armistice of 11 November 1918 ended World War I.
I have a small collection of the things that he carried with him as he fought in the trenches of France leading up to the day that we now celebrate as Veterans Day.
My most cherished possession is a collection of letters that he mailed home to family and friends. Most of his letters don’t provide much detail, however his handwritten journal that he carried with him helps fill in the blanks a little.
“On to line, Oct. 18”
“Relieved 1st Btln., Oct. 30”
“Over the top Hallowe’en Night, Nov. 1”
“Eleven days of Hell”
Having never served in the military, I can only imagine what it must have been like, not just for my grandfather in World War I, but for all our men and women who have joined the cause of freedom.
With the approach of Veterans Day, I urge all Americans to pause for a moment to mark the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.
David Kennard is the executive editor of The Robesonian. Contact him at 910-416-5847.